Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CD Review: The Carolina Chocolate Drops Make It Sound "Genuine"

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a breath of fresh air in this computer heavy music industry. Their soulful roots shine bright on their newest release "Genuine Negro Jig".

The album feels like you time traveled back to the early 1900's when music was played from the heart and not from the wallet. The songs that make up this album are mostly covers of blues and jazz greats from yesteryear with a couple of originals added in. The album starts off with the Etta Baker instrumental "Peace Behind The Bridge". It's a great introduction on what to expect from this great band. Their version of the blues song, "Trouble In Your Mind" will put a little pep in your step. "Hit'em Up Style" has a beat provided by Justin Robinson that's hard to resist, but it's Rhiannon Giddens vocals that carry the song. If you close your eyes and listen to "Cornbread And Butterbeans" will your mind will place you right in the deep south, on the farm. Rhiannon's vocals fly high on "Why Don't You Do Right?" and the accapella "Reynadine." The eerie sounding original "Kissin' and Cussin'" was inspired by Ike and Tina Turner and all those bad relationships. Singer and banjo player Don Flemons saves his best act for last with a haunting version of Tom Waits' "Trampled Rose."

The new album "Genuine Negro Jig" was released in February and is available everywhere. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are also currently on tour in the North Carolina area before heading up the east coast at the end up April. For more information on this hot new band, please visit www.carolinachocolatedrops.com.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Concert Review: Norah Jones Brings "The Fall" To MGM Grand

Multi-platinum selling artist Norah Jones has been soothing audiences for almost a decade with her sultry, smooth voice. Her music has swayed between jazz, rock and country and her band has changed its line-up on a number of occasions, but it’s her voice that is the one constant that fans have come to know. Norah Jones brought her latest band to the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods to promote her most recent album, “The Fall”.

Opening the show on rhythm guitar, Norah Jones, dressed in a blue bubble skirt accompanied by some bright red high-heel shoes, jumped right into the new album with “I Wouldn’t Need You”. The first six songs of the show were from her latest release with the biggest response coming from her single “Chasing Pirates”. The opening chords of her 2004 hit single “Sunrise” drew a big applause from the audience. Norah Jones seemed most comfortable at her piano where she would do most of her interacting with the sold-out theatre crowd. Lead guitarist Smokey Hormel was able to steal the spotlight at times, especially during his slide-guitar solo of “Back to Manhattan”; however, Norah was everyone’s main focus whether she was on guitar, keyboards or piano. A solo performance of her breakthrough hit “Don’t Know Why” seemed the lack the extra punch provided by the band, but that night, Norah could do no wrong. Her 2003 single “Come Away With Me” drew one of the biggest applauses before finishing her set with a cover of The Kinks’ song “Strangers.”

The encore began with a quartet of musicians that included Sasha Dobson (acoustic guitar and vocals), Gus Sevffert (stand-up bass), Smokey Hormel (steel guitar) and Norah on acoustic guitar and vocals. They performed a cover of Hank Williams’ “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart”, a song that was given to Norah Jones to give music to Hank Williams’ lyrics. The entire band joined in for the closing song, “Stuck” as Smokey Hormel’s solos and Norah Jones’ smiles enticed the crowd to deliver a well-deserved standing ovation to the evening’s performance.

Setlist:
I Wouldn’t Need You
Tell Yer Mama
Light As A Feather
Chasing Pirates
Even Though
It’s Gonna Be
Rosie's Lullabye
Waiting
Sunrise
Cold Cold Heart (Hank Williams cover)
Back To Manhattan
Sinkin’ Soon
Bull Rider (Johnny Cash cover)
Carnival Town
Man Of The Hour
Don’t Know Why
Young Blood
Come Away With Me
Strangers (The Kinks cover)

encore:
How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart (Hank Williams)
Stuck

Monday, March 22, 2010

CD Review: HIM's 13 Chapters of "Love"

Finnish rockers, HIM, return with their seventh studio album entitled, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13". Singer/songwriter Ville Valo wrote these songs as a way of getting back at all the people that have broke his heart or let him down. This new album was produced by Matt Squire (Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low) and was released in February on the Sire record label.

"Screamworks" starts out with the heavy rocker "In Venere Veritas" which gives us some of lead singer Ville Valo's most powerful vocals. The rest of the album flows between alternative rock anthems and rock radio hits before returning with the heavy "Ode To Solitude". The album's first single, "Heartkiller" carries a message to all those who were scarred by a break-up. HIM show their softer side with "Disarm Me (With You Loneliness)", but the lyrics are nothing short of revengeful. Keyboards play a large part in introducing the songs "Love, The Hardest Way" and "In The Arms Of Rain" before the rest of the bands takes over the songs. The album finishes strong with the heavy hitting "Like St. Valentine" and the experimental "The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness". Fans new and old will appreciate the band's attempt to tackle the albums overall theme of emptiness and revenge.

HIM are currently on tour promoting their new album. They will be performing at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on March 26th, the Sonar in Baltimore on March 27th and the House of Blues in Boston on March 28th. For more tour dates, check out www.heartagram.com. HIM's new album is available now in stores and online.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Concert Review: Ace(s) Wild At Mohegan Sun

After two tours of duty as the lead guitarist of the legendary band Kiss, Ace Frehley finally seems comfortable out on his own. Last year he released one of his strongest solo albums and has received rave reviews of his live shows overseas. The Wolf’s Den at Mohegan Sun was the place to be for the Kiss Army fans of Connecticut as Ace Frehley performed the first of only three scheduled US tour appearances.

Ace Frehley’s performance Friday night felt loose as he mainly stuck with Kiss classics (Rocket Ride, Parasite) as well as classics from his Kiss solo album (Snowblind, Speedin’ Back To My Baby). Ace only touched upon his new album for a moment with ‘Sister” and “Pain In The Neck” which wasn’t perfect, but not bad for the first time ever performed live. The crowd finally made their presence known during the chorus of his 1987 Frehley’s Comet hit “Rock Soldiers.” Frehley’s bassist Anthony Esposito took over the vocal duties on the Kiss songs “Love Her All I Can” and “Strange Ways.” Kiss fans went crazy for “Rip It Out”, but Ace hit his stride with his signature songs “NY Groove” and “Shock Me.” The latter song featured a smoking guitar solo, which is exactly what happened as his guitar began to smoke halfway through the solo. His band returned to finish the set with the Kiss hit “Shout It Out Loud.”

The encore was a trio of Kiss concert staples beginning with “Deuce.” Drummer Scot Coogan took the lead vocals for “Love Gun” and Ace finished the 2 hour show with one of his favorite Kiss songs “Cold Gin.” The small venue played perfectly to Frehley’s strength as he felt connected to his fans. Frehley stated earlier in the show, “always bet on Ace” and he delivered on that bet.

Setlist:
Fractured Quantum (recording)
Rocket Ride
Parasite
Snowblind
Sister
Pain In The Neck
Into The Void
Speedin’ Back To My Baby
Rock Soldiers
Love Her All I Can
Talk To Me
2000 Man
Strange Ways
NY Groove
Rip It Out
Hard Times
Shock Me
Shout It Out Loud
Deuce
Love Gun
Cold Gin

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CD Review: Luther Russell Gets Going With "Motorbike" EP

Singer-songwriter Luther Russell will release a six-song EP entitled "Motorbike" on March 15th. These songs are taken from his forthcoming double-album "The Invisible Audience." Russell has produced over 20 albums in the past decade, but this is only his second solo album since moving from Portland, Oregon back to his hometown of Los Angeles.

Motorbike begins with the title track that has a very "Americana" feel to its sound. The combination of the acoustic guitar and steady drumbeat is the perfect beginning to this short trip through sound. The harmonizing voices of "Dead Sun Blues" and "Et Al" give off a very laid-back, "swinging on the front porch" type vibe. Both songs are well-placed in this concise EP. "A World Unknown" sounds like a lost out-take from Blind Faith with it's shake-style drumming and acoustic blues guitar riff. "Tomorrow's Paper" is the "rock" song that most people will relate to with its Foo Fighters-type sound. But Russell finishes the EP with an acoustic song "Somehow or Another" about rising up from the ashes of defeat.

Luther Russell will be performing at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City before heading overseas for a dozen dates in April. For more information on Luther Russell's new EP "Motorbike", check out www.lutherrussell.com.

Monday, March 15, 2010

CD Review: Sad Red's "Elder" Debut

Sad Red from Brooklyn, NY have released their new debut album entitled "Elder". They will be performing in support of this album in the New England area in mid-March.

The album opens with "The Garden And The Lemon Tree" which starts out acoustically with a barley noticeable drum beat, but the song gets a lift by an electric solo. The chord changes of "Just Like An Orange" keeps the listener guessing on the song's direction. The intricate arrangement of songs like "Ellie" and "This Head Of Mine" makes you focus on the music as not to miss anything happening between the instruments. Songs like "Bag of Shame" and "Elegy No. 1" combine 90's-style grunge style guitar with 80's-style electronics to create a 2010-style mash-up of sound. The song-writing and musicianship come together on the epic "One Shot" by painting a landscape in your mind with the music. Sad Red also shows off a gentler side with the songs "Fate Waits" and "Eden Lane".

Sad Red will be performing in Connecticut on March 18th at Cousin Larry's in Danbury, March 20th at the Acoustic Cafe in Bridgeport and on March 21st at The Space in Hamden. For more information on these upcoming shows and on their new album "Elder", please visit www.sadred.com.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Class of 2010

Let me start off by saying that I have a major problem with recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When you have "rock 'n' roll" acts on the ballot like Kiss and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and they get overlooked for bands like ABBA, there is a problem with the system. When you have Run D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in the hall of fame, but "rock 'n' roll" acts like Alice Cooper and Rush are not even nominated, there is a problem with the system. Now don't get me wrong, all the artists on this year's inductee list are talented, but the fact that ABBA has never had a successful album in the US and Kiss has had more gold albums than any other band, besides The Beatles, and ABBA gets in over Kiss shows that there is a problem with the system. They either have to change the voting criteria or change the name of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to just the Music Hall of Fame.

Now there are some inductees this year that deserve their place in the hall of fame and first on that list is Genesis. They are one of the pioneers of Progressive Rock (Prog Rock) and went from an underground art band in the early 1970s to a powerhouse singles pumping machine in the 1980s and 90s. Switching from front-man Peter Gabriel to Phil Collins only made the band stronger and their amazing 2007 arena reunion tour showed how timeless their music is.

The Hollies were a key member in the British Invasion. Songs like "Bus Stop" and "On A Carousel" were big hits for the band in the 60's. Even after singer/songwriter Graham Nash left the band to join Crosby, Stills & Nash; The Hollies motored on with "Long Cool Woman in a Back Dress" and one of the 1970's anthem "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". The band also had 21 consecutive Top 20 UK hits through 1970.

The Stooges are one of the pioneers of what would become "punk" music. Their three albums were landmark and their live shows and energy became legendary. Front-man Iggy Pop supplied the voice for such songs as "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "1969".

Bob Marley broke down the barrier between reggae and rock, but it was Jimmy Cliff who created the ultimate reggae album, "The Harder They Come". Jimmy Cliff was the first international reggae star to bring this style of music to the masses. He paved the way for legends like Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals and very much deserves his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

So hopefully, future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame classes actually include "rock 'n' roll" performers. Remember the bands that paved the way for the musicians of today. Don't forget to check out this year's show on Monday, March 15th at 8:30PM on the Fuse channel.

Monday, March 8, 2010

CD Review: Social Code Delivers "Rock 'N' Roll"

Canadian rockers Social Code bring "Rock 'N' Roll" to the US in the form of the band's debut album. Produced by John Travis (Buckcherry, Kid Rock) the album was recorded during the cold Edmonton winter and will be released on March 23.

The lyrics of the album's opener "Rock 'N' Roll" foreshadows what Social Code feels the music population has been asking for as lead singer Travis Nesbitt states that he "wants to hear some rock 'n' roll" and believe me, they came to deliver. The drums of Ben Shilabeer and bass of Logan Jacobs is what powers these high-energy songs like "Nothing Left To Lose", "Buy Buy Baby" and " You Never Know What You Got Until It's Gone". The albums first single "Satisfied" displays the band's potential of giving the listener a classic rocker with lyrics to sing/shout along to. Guitarist Morgan Gies does not over perform by demanding the spotlight, but instead gives the songs "Perfect Grave" and "Real Girl" it's original sound. The power-ballad "Stay" shows the softer side of the band's song-writing and performing. "I'm Not OK" is a rock anthem for the broken hearted, while "Too Late For Tomorrow" demands you to take action now.

The band recently toured with the likes of Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry, Finger Eleven and are eager to get back on the road to promote their latest release "Rock 'N' Roll". For videos, tour dates and more please visit www.socialcodemusic.com.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

CD Review: Jukebox The Ghosts Live And "Let Live"

Newcomers, Jukebox The Ghost are currently on tour promoting their newest release "Let Live And Let Ghosts". They will be performing in Connecticut on Saturday, March 6th at the Toquet Hall in Westport before making their way down south to the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Jukebox The Ghost is made up of three friends that hail from Washington D.C. with a common love for music.

Their album is full of energetic, fun pop music. Right from the opening song "Good Day" and the catchy "Under My Skin," you get the feeling that these three musicians really enjoy performing together. Their quirky songwriting shines through on the songs "Beady Eyes On The Horizon" and "Victoria." The album really takes off with the songs "Static" and "Lighting Myself On Fire" which shows that the band can step past the pop songs to grab the attention they deserve.

The band has performed with Ben Folds, Toyko Police Club and most recently with Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches. For more information on Jukebox The Ghost, check out www.myspace.com/jukeboxtheghost.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CD Review: Alan Charing Returns With "Stitch"

It's been six years since his last album and eleven years since he used his own name on an album, but "Stitch" is the return of Oregon singer-songwriter Alan Charing. Formally of the band A.C. Cotton, Charing is moving forward with his song-writing on this new release.

"Stitch" begins with the energetic "Leftover Life To Kill". An up-tempo punk drum beat reminiscent of Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Charing sings about his unstable mindset in "New Jersey" before his energy gets lifted again in "Day Shift". His laid-back rock roots shine through on "I Can Feel The Wheel". "The Storm" features members of Laura Gibson's band as well as Gibson on vocals which sugarcoats the song's dark lyrics. "Disasterpiece" sounds like an out-take from a Tom Petty solo album. "Whiskey Sours" picks up the energy and intensity of the music before closing with the appropriate "Long Goodbye" about coming to terms with closure in your life.

His songs have been featured on NBC, WB and Fox television shows and his new album is available on March 9th on Lazy Bones Records. You can visit the Lazy Bones website (www.lazybones.com) for more information on Alan Charing new release.